- Multiple factors. Multifactorial inheritance is the type of hereditary pattern seen when there is more than one genetic factor involved and, sometimes, when there are also environmental factors participating in the causation of a condition. Many common traits are multifactorial. Skin color, for example, is multifactorially determined. So is height and so also is intelligence. The most common diseases tend also to multifactorial. Type 2 diabetes, the most common type of diabetes, is multifactorial. It is due to the inheritance of susceptibility genes (genes that make one susceptible to developing diabetes) plus environmental factors such as obesity. Obesity, in turn, clearly is multifactorial in causation.
* * *mul·ti·fac·to·ri·al -fak-'tōr-ē-əl, -'tȯr- adj1) having characters or a mode of inheritance dependent on a number of genes at different loci2) or mul·ti·fac·tor -'fak-tər having, involving, or produced by a variety of elements or causes <a \multifactorial study> <a disease with a \multifactorial etiology>mul·ti·fac·to·ri·al·ly -ē-ə-lē adv
* * *adj.describing a condition that is believed to have resulted from the interaction of genetic factors, usually polygenes, with an environmental factor or factors. Many disorders, e.g. spina bifida and anencephaly, are thought to be multifactorial.
* * *mul·ti·fac·to·ri·al (mul″te-fak-torґe-əl) 1. of or pertaining to, or arising through the action of many factors. 2. in genetics, arising as the result of the interaction of several genes and usually, to some extent, of nongenetic factors. Cf. polygenic.
Medical dictionary. 2011.